So, What is Studying Education Like?

Chloe Bond
Created: 1 year, 6 months ago
Last modified: 1 year, 5 months ago

Whenever I tell people that I study Education at Cambridge, I’m met with the same response: so, you’re training to be a teacher then? No, I tell them politely, and then sigh as I try to explain what it is I actually do.

Education is one of the more niche courses that Cambridge has to offer, with a fairly small undergraduate cohort – split across 3 different subject specialisms called ‘tracks’. When applying, you can choose to follow the Psychology and Learning track (EPL), the Policy and International Development track (EPID) or the English, Drama & the Arts (EEDA) track. You can find out more about how the different tracks work here: Faculty of Education Undergraduate Study website 🔗

The course is also highly collaborative, particularly with other members of the Faculty. You’ll often have the opportunity to work with PhD student supervisors and hear from other postgraduates about the research they’re doing. I spoke to four current students to discuss their experiences of studying with the Faculty of Education and to find out what advice they’d give to prospective applicants.

Sobaan Mohammed

1st Year Undergraduate; Education, Psychology and Learning; Selwyn

If you could describe your course in one word or sentence, what would it be?


What is your favourite thing about studying Education?

That the course is so, so varied. We learn about philosophy, sociology, psychology, linguistics – to name but a few! And, in the paper I borrow from the Psychology and Behavioural Sciences Tripos (PBS), there’s a whole range of topics to look at – ranging from intelligence to emotions. I find the breadth of options available fascinating and can always draw links to my own experiences.

What advice would you give to someone who is looking to apply to Education?

It’s a good idea to reflect on your own experiences of education and learning. Thinking about issues you’ve encountered and how the systems you’ve experienced work is a useful starting point for thinking more critically about the subject.

Top 3 Reading Suggestions

Agents of Hope 🔗 - a brilliant podcast for anyone interested in education, psychology and social issues.

Miseducation: Inequality, Education and the Working Classes (Diane Reay, 2017)

Education Endowment Foundation | EEF 🔗 - a website which offers useful resources on educational policy and reports for you to browse.

Catherine Yuefang Tang

MPhil Education: Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature; Homerton

What’s your favourite aspect of your course?

It covers A LOT of different themes and the texts we look at are very diverse. The discussions I have with other students are also really thought-provoking and the lecturers are always super friendly!

If you could describe your course in one word or sentence, what would it be?

Plenty of reading and time spent in the library, but knowing that your work will make an impact on the next generation of readers.

Top 3 Reading Suggestions

Children’s Literature: A Very Short Introduction (Kimberley Reynolds, 2011)

Ethics in Children’s Literature: Unexamined Life (Lisa Sainsbury, 2013)

The Narrator’s Voice: The Dilemma of Children’s Fiction (Barbara Wall, 1991)

Tyra Amofah-Akardom

MPhil Education: Knowledge, Power & Politics; Fitzwilliam

If you could describe your course in one sentence, what would it be?

An opportunity to explore and question the way that education, schooling and learning has been presented to us throughout our lives.

What is your favourite aspect of your course?

I value the interdisciplinary nature of the course. The fact that within one degree, I've had the chance to study some philosophy, psychology, history, international development, sociology, linguistics and much more has been so enjoyable. But even within this variety, I've had the chance to specialise in the sociology of education - particularly Black feminism - which is my biggest research interest. The amazing people that I've been able to work with whilst studying at the Faculty have always supported me and encouraged me to pursue my interests.

What advice would you give to someone who is looking to apply to Education?

Don't be afraid to pursue your interests within the subject! Even though the tracks can seem to direct you a particular way, there's still lots of flexibility to dig into what you're passionate about. For instance, although I did the Policy & International Development stream (EPID) at undergraduate level, i managed to focus on sociology - something I didn't expect at the start of my degree. Also, keep in mind that education is so broad, so if something seems like it's not relevant at first, you never know - it might just turn into your next big idea!

What supercurricular reading would you recommend to prospective applicants, to help get them started with understanding education studies?

Subnormal: A British Scandal (BBC Documentary, 2021)
Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Paulo Freire, 1968)

Gabriel Duckels

3rd Year PhD Student; Hughes Hall

What is your favourite thing about being part of the Faculty of Education?

It’s an inherently interdisciplinary field, and that’s where the exciting work happens. Education brings together many different people from a wide range of disciplines and backgrounds, united by an interest in questions of pedagogy. It’s not just about teaching!

If you could describe your course in one word or sentence, what would it be?

The opportunity to immerse myself in the study of children’s literature and its relationship to queer history, popular culture, and education.

What supercurricular reading would you recommend to prospective applicants, to help get them started with understanding education studies?

Teaching to Transgress (bell hooks, 1994)

As we’ve (hopefully!) shown, there is no one ‘typical’ Education student. Coming to Cambridge, I was worried that as a student from a working-class background I would feel out of my depth – especially in a subject which I’d never been exposed to before. But after almost three years here, I’ve come to realise that meeting and working with people from all walks of life means I always have something new to contribute to discussions. So, even though Education is difficult to explain sometimes, it’s certainly a dynamic and expansive degree which has a lot to offer!

For more information on the course, have a look at the InsideUni Education Subject Guide 🔗 🌟.

If you'd like to know more about what undergraduate interviews for Education are like, have a read through the InsideUni Interview Testimonials for Education 🔗 🌟.

And finally, if you have a specific question, you can contact me directly through my Unibuddy Profile 🔗 🌟 – I’m always happy to help! 😊